How Accurate Do You Have to Be – Part V
Dr. Ken Nordberg
Not all regularly successful deer hunters are great shots. Most I have known during my 71 years of whitetail hunting were stand hunters who were particularly skilled at finding stand sites where their odds of seeing unsuspecting deer – unalarmed and moving slowly or standing still – within easy shooting range were particularly great. Logically, such a skill adds enormously to shooting success.
Most serious stand hunters inevitably begin to realize the odds for success at any one stand site drop off precipitously within a few hours to a day of hunting. The reason is, most of today’s mature does (2-1/2 years of age or older) that live within 400 yards of any stand site or most mature bucks that live within a half-mile of any stand site quickly learn to identify ground level and elevated stands used by hunters and thereafter avoid them. For this reason many stand hunters now use 1–2 different stand sites per day of hunting.
Finding stand sites likely to provide easy shots at unsuspecting deer is called “scouting.” While scouting, the hunter searches for sites or trails likely to be frequented by desirable quarries during a future hunting season or for sites or trails frequented by desirable quarries right now, today, during a hunting season.
While scouting, it is unnecessary to actually see deer to determine where deer are or will be during a hunting season. Various deer signs provide all the information needed. Fresh tracks (having sharp margins) of unalarmed (walking) deer and fresh droppings (shiny) reveal the vicinity in which whitetails are active right now, today, or likely soon will be. Because whitetails will be alarmed while scouting, preseason scouting is best done 2–3 weeks before a hunting season begins, ensuring deer will be back n their home ranges doing predictable things during predictable hours at predictable places when the hunting season begins – feeding in certain feeding areas, for example.
Because all widely scattered deer trails converge on current favorite feeding areas, feeding areas and trails surrounding them are the most productive of stand sites. Those currently frequented by whitetails are identified by lots of fresh and old off-trail tracks (typically zigzagging) of walking deer (tracks less than 18 inches apart) and lots of fresh and old droppings. In November when whitetails begin feeding on thin branches of woody shrubs such as red-bark dogwoods and maple saplings, feeding (browse) areas are made obvious by countless white, ragged tips on such shrubs. When scouting early, future browse areas are made obvious by lots of brown or blackened tips on such plants (browsed during the previous winter).
To become a regularly successful whitetail hunter, make it a rule to stand hunt well hidden within easy shooting range downwind or crosswind of very fresh tracks and/or droppings of whitetails, preferably within or adjacent to feeding areas.
Look for a host of valuable stand hunting tips like the one above in future articles. Well proven during 46 years of unique, hunting-related research by the author, they will dramatically improve your future shooting (hunting) success.
Dr. Nordberg has written more than 700 articles for outdoor magazines since 1980, 10 bestselling books about whitetails & improved hunting methods & 3 about how to hunt trophy-class black bears – books that changed to way whitetails & black bears are hunted in North America forever. All are based on his unique, hunting-related field studies, still ongoing, of wild deer and black bears since 1970. For complete information and to reach Dr. Nordberg, go to www.drnordbergondeerhunting.com
A very fresh track of a walking 2-1/2 year-old doe in snow, meaning, this deer is near.